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American Indians rally at Oklahoma Capitol to call attention to environmental, sovereignty issues

About 200 people rallied outside the Oklahoma Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and to criticize the election of an Oklahoma tribal affairs commission.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: January 29, 2013

Jacque Hensley, the governor's tribal liaison, is in senior staff meetings every week with the governor, Weintz said.

“I can assure you that the tribal commission was not in weekly meetings with this governor or any other governor prior to the creation of this new liaison position,” Weintz said.

Fallin believes the Keystone pipeline is being constructed in a way that is environmentally responsible, Weintz said.

“The governor continues to be a strong supporter of completing it,” Weintz said.

The rally, held on the north plaza of the Capitol, was part of a planned global day of action organized on social media websites by Idle No More, which was formed last year in Canada over treaty concerns; similar events were to be held in more than 30 cities in Canada and in cities across the United States.

Narcomey said he's concerned about equality in Oklahoma's public schools and the widespread discrimination against Indians in the state.

“I see a lot of anti-Indian attitude from a lot of the non-Indian community,” said Narcomey, who grew up in Oklahoma, left in the mid-1970s to serve in the military and returned after 35 years in 2004. “That attitude still prevails. I was hoping to see a different change when I came back, but I haven't seen any changes at all.”

Burt Poorbuffalo, of Pink, and a member of the Kiowa Nation, said he is worried about the harm that has been done by the energy industry over the years to the land.

“We need to take care of Mother Earth — the water and the air and the earth,” he said. “They don't care. … They want to take more oil out of Mother Earth. If they keep doing that, something drastic is going to happen like global warming.”

Richard Ray Whitman, of Oklahoma City, said not one treaty has been dishonored by a tribe.

“It's sacred,” said Whitman, a member of the Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe, which is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. “When our ancestors entered into an agreement, they did it with a ceremonial pipe.”